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By René Ferrán

The Gresham-Barlow School District will not be participating in full-contact 11-on-11 football this school year.

In a letter addressed to the Barlow Football Community, shared on the Barlow Bruins Football Facebook page late Thursday night, Barlow principal Bruce Schmidt and athletic director Dan Dalzell write, “Last week, the state provided us with the requirements schools and districts must meet in order to play full contact football. Upon evaluation, and after contacting other schools both in the Mt. Hood Conference and regionally, it became evident that these requirements have proven to be very difficult to meet in order to safely play full contact football in Season 2.”

Eight days earlier, updated guidance from Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority had created a path for outdoor contact sports to resume — but only at schools where at least limited in-person instruction is occurring.

Said Gov. Brown in last week’s release: “To all the parents of student athletes and coaches who have called and emailed me in the last year asking for school sports to resume, I am challenging you now to devote your energy to making sure in-person academics can resume for your kids, too.”

The recent winter storm forced the cancellation of numerous practices at many schools around the state, presenting a further challenge as teams scramble to get in shape for the season’s first games March 5. 

Instead of traditional football, the Gresham-Barlow district’s two high schools in the Class 6A Mt. Hood Conference — Gresham and Barlow — will offer 7-on-7 football, a non-contact version of the sport. For the offensive and defensive linemen who are left out in the 7-on-7 format, there will be “lineman challenges” in which they can compete in various strength and agility exercises.

“While there will never be a replacement for full contact 11-on-11 football,” Schmidt and Dalzell write in their letter, “we hope that our student-athletes will take advantage of this opportunity to participate with their friends and coaches, and put on their Bruin jersey a few more times on our fields.”


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